Without making a trade or making any significant upgrades to the roster since yesterday, the Rangers playoff chances went up dramatically.
That’s because Major League Baseball has decided to jump the shark and allow sixteen of its thirty teams to make the playoffs. Not ten. Sixteen.
The top two teams in each division. Then the two best third place teams in each league.
That means there’s a good chance a team under .500 can skate into the playoffs.
Hello, Texas Rangers.
In the A.L. West it’s a dead lock that Houston and Oakland make finish one-two. In the Central, it’s probably Minnesota and Cleveland. In the East, New York and Tampa Bay. The Rangers have a really good shot at being one of the top mediocre teams. They just need to beat out the few remaining teams in the America League that have a sliver of a chance. That doesn’t include Baltimore, Seattle, Detroit, and Kansas City have no chance.
So, really, the Rangers aren’t in the American League West Race. The division they are battling for the playoffs is Texas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, and Boston. The top two in this division make it in.
With eight teams in the playoffs in each league, there will not be the one-game do-or-die playoff game that was so dramatic. (They probably won’t be trading Choo, either, even if it is his walk year. Even if the Rangers go 10-50, they are still in the playoff hunt.)
In the first round, what they are calling the Wild Card Series, the number one team will play the eighth seed, two plays seventh, and so on. The first round is best of three. The twist is, all three games are played in the higher seed’s ballpark, three days in a row (if need be), with no off days.
The second round, called the Division Series, will be a best-of-five in the regular format. Two games in higher seed’s park, two games in the other team’s park, then the final game back in the higher seed’s park, if needed.
Then there’s the League Championship Series. Like always, a best of seven. Two, three, two format, home field advantage going with the higher seed.
Then, of course, after all this, the World Series.
Here’s the kicker. This season will each team will play sixty games. If every series goes its full length, it will require sixty-one total games. So, the playoffs could potentially have more games than the regular season.
With so few games to play and so many teams eligible for the playoffs, it seems like there will be huge opportunity for ties. Nope. They will use some mathematical format to break ties. There won’t be any extra tie-breaker games.
So, there you have it. The Rangers are in the playoff hunt by virtue of being one of the top four teams in their division. If they can just play well enough to be third place, they have a shot.
Welcome to opening day. The playoff race begins.
German Marquez vs. Lance Lynn
Game time: 7:05 on FSWW, 105.3 FM, KFLC in Spanish